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Daily school lunches should be plant-based

The Animal rights organisation SAFE is recommending the Government provides healthy, climate-friendly, plant-based food in its recently announced daily school lunch trial.

The Government last week announced the launch of a free school lunch trial as part of its Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. The initiative will see free daily lunches provided for 30 primary and intermediate schools from the beginning of next year.

SAFE’s Eat Kind Programme Officer Kylie Dale says free plant-based lunches would make a difference to thousands of young Kiwis.

"At an age where life-long habits around healthy food choices are being developed, offering free plant-based lunches is a great chance to foster healthy eating habits," says Kylie.

"Half of young New Zealanders aren’t eating their recommended daily servings of vegetables. A child who may have little-to-no vegetables in an entire week would instead have the opportunity to eat five meals full of plant-rich foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans all provide nutritious energy for child growth and development and to support learning."

Diets rich in whole plant foods have also been identified as being good for the climate. The 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report recommended a transition from diets high in meat and dairy to a diet rich in plant-based foods.

"We’ve seen tens of thousands of school students take to the streets calling on policymakers to take urgent action on climate change. Ensuring that the free lunches provided are climate-friendly is an opportunity for the Government to show that they take environmental issues seriously."

"The Government’s vision for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy is to ensure that New Zealand is the best place in the world for children and young people. Ensuring our children have access to food that is healthier both for them and the environment is an easy way to get closer to this goal," says Kylie.

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